The A4AI national coalition in the Dominican Republic has had a busy year, which saw them successfully advocate the Dominican government to revive efforts to develop and implement a new national Digital Agenda. Thanks in large part to the efforts of the coalition, issues around the importance of ICTs and affordable, universal Internet access have made their way back into the mainstream media and conversations around the country. With presidential elections coming up in just a little over a week (May 15), the focus at the recent meeting of the national coalition in Santo Domingo turned to the future; specifically, how best to future-proof the Digital Agenda that is currently under development, regardless of the results of the fast-approaching elections.
In February, the A4AI-Dominican Republic (A4AI-RD) coalition — led by the coalition’s working group on ICT taxation and digital agenda funding — drafted a call to the country’s presidential hopefuls. This document, “A Call to Consider the Promotion of Universal, Affordable Internet Access”, highlights the positive impact of Internet access and use on socio-economic development, and underscores the importance of policies that promote and enable wider access to affordable Internet and usage.
The politically neutral document calls on all the candidates to:
- Commit to prioritising affordable, universal Internet access;
- Share their vision for the future of ICT in the country; and
- Outline, in detail, their plans to implement and fund the final Digital Agenda.
The working group, lead by Osvaldo Larancuent, Executive Director of the Dominican ICT Business Chamber of Commerce and member of the A4AI coalition taxation working group, delivered the call to several of the presidential candidates. The working group also delivered a set of ICT-specific questions to those organisations coordinating the electoral debates, and saw one of these questions asked to and answered by Dominican President Danilo Medina. Since issuing the call to action, President Medina (who is up for re-election), has re-emphasised his plans for making the country a “digital republic”. Leading opposition candidate Luis Abinader, from the country’s Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), released PRM’s proposed ICT plan, and publicly stated his intention to sign a letter of commitment to our call, promising to implement and fund the Digital Agenda. We call on all the other candidates to do the same.
At its first meeting in February 2015, the A4AI-Dominican Republic coalition identified the lack of a cohesive, national vision to guide ICT policy development as a critical barrier to affordable Internet access and use in the country. In little more than a year, the coalition has made significant progress toward overcoming this obstacle and ensuring that inclusive ICT policy is at the heart of Dominican policy. We call again on all candidates to agree to work together and with a wide range of stakeholders to commit the time, effort, and resources necessary to implement an inclusive and effective national Digital Agenda.